A group of students protested possible changes to Montgomery College classes popular with those using senior tuition waivers for those 60 and older, saying fee hikes or changes to class availability could keep them out of classrooms.
More than a dozen students donned pink T-shirts with the logo “Save Our Seniors” at Monday’s Board of Trustees of Montgomery College meeting and spoke in opposition to proposed changes by the school.
“What they’ve come up with is jaw-dropping ... it’s unfair,” said Sheloy Gigliotti, 82, of Germantown. Gigliotti said she has been enrolling in physical education classes for nearly 30 years to help battle arthritis.
College administrators say they are still debating what, if any, changes they will make to the classes or their senior tuition waiver program, which allows students 60 or older to waive certain class costs.
The college tasked a group of students, faculty and administrators in December with assessing the school’s policies and procedures related to senior tuition waivers after discovering that some classes at its Rockville campus had a disproportionate number of students using the waiver compared to those taking them for credit, said college spokeswoman Elizabeth Homan.
Most of these were art and physical education classes, which the school found often consisted almost entirely of senior students using the waiver, she said. Normally classes with such low enrollment are cancelled but senior enrollment often kept them open.
Students using the wavier pay only course fees, according to college regulations. The waiver is mandated by law for all schools in the University of Maryland System, which governs the rules for most public education institutions in the state.
Since the task group formed, the college has considered several options including offering these classes as noncredit courses, according to administrators. Gigliotti said she pays $68 in fees for her twice weekly water aerobics class. Under that plan she would pay $87.
Senior student Mary Jane Goodrick spoke before the board Monday. She wrote in her testimony that she was upset with a proposal that would cancel classes that did not have enough tuition-paying students enrolled — set at 15 students. Homan said this is an existing school policy Montgomery College had not historically been enforcing in these classes.
After students were polled about the original proposals, the college began seeking other options, Homan said. She said Montgomery College is not revealing the details of these changes until administrators formally propose them, expected in coming weeks.
Homan said the school’s focus is to apply enrollment guidelines consistently in all its courses, not prohibit seniors from taking classes.